By Asian Journal Auto Editor

Would it be that much of a surprise to learn the Tiguan was Volkswagen Canada’s best-selling model in 2018 with 21,449 Tiguan’s sold last year? Like the full-sized VW Atlas, it is based on VW’s Modular Transverse Matrix architecture, and is one of the larger compact crossovers in its class, allowing it the option of a third row of seats. With its neat, stylish, yet restrained looks, the Tiguan does not wear a confusing wave of curves, swoops, fold and creases like some of its competitors. Instead it’s just a smart, attractive SUV that will age very well like all Volkswagens. It is also supremely aerodynamic with a claimed best in class an ultra-low drag coefficient of 0.337. Under the hood is a revised 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct-injection TSI four-cylinder engine, with 184 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 221 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,600 to 4,300 rpm. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.

For Canada, the Tiguan arrives in three trim levels: the base Trendline (front-wheel drive), Comfortline and Highline which offer as standard “4Motion” all-wheel drive with economy, snow and off-road driving modes. Standard equipment across the lineup includes LED daytime running lights and taillights, Bluetooth phone connectivity, “App-Connect” smartphone integration (supporting Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink), automatic headlights, air conditioning (automatic climate control in Comfortline and Highline trim), 18-inch wheels on Highline models, and a six-speaker audio/infotainment system with colour touchscreen display.

Interior wise, the Tiguan features a clean, minimalist, neat look that will satisfy the more discerning of drivers with high quality fabrics, plastics and fittings. A generous 38 cubic feet of cargo space is available behind the rear seats, if you forgo the minuscule third-row seats. Note the optional third row seat is, what Volkswagens calls “5 + 2,” meaning it’s really small and best for small kids, but you can cram two adult in there for very short trips. The front and rear cabin offer generous legroom and head room and are really nice places to be. Folding the seats creates 33 cubic feet (934 litres) of cargo space, and that can be easily expanded to 65.7 cu-ft (1860 L) by folding the second row, using the levers in the cargo area.

We tested a top Highline model (Base MRSP $39,575) that featured: 480-watt Fender premium audio system with 12 speakers, leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, a configurable digital instrument cluster, navigation system, driver’s power seat memory, ambient lighting power liftgate, and park distance control Options on our tester included the optional Driver’s Assistance Package ($1, 295), The third row seat package ($750). The strictly cosmetic, $1,960 R-Line package added: 19 inch Trenton alloy wheels, R-Line steering wheel and R-Line exterior bumpers and grille. Total price came to $43,580 plus freight ($1,645) and Air Conditioning Excise Tax ($100).

On the road, the Tiguan’s “active control,” allows drivers to select specific drive modes according to driving conditions, via a simple rotary knob and button interface. The knob offers four settings for the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system: On-road, Snow, Off-road, and Custom Off-road. A press of the button triggers the driving profile selection, offering a choice of Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual drive modes. Each mode alters the engine, transmission, steering, and parameters. As usual the Tiguan offers great handling and on road, the electro-mechanical power steering comes with variable assistance. Acceleration is good, although the Tiguan does not have a lot of grunt to spare with a full load of five people. Despite that, the Tiguan offer a comfortable relaxing ride and no drama.

The Tiguan has a firm ride that is more than able to handles pothole and light off-road trails. It is a pleasure to drive. As for fuel economy, 4Motion-equipped models are rated at 11.3 L/100 kilometres in city driving, 8.8 L/100 km on the highway and 10.2 L/100 km combined — using regular unleaded gasoline. Automatic engine stop-start system, standard across the range, helps with fuel economy, especially in crowded, congested urban and city areas. Towing capacity is a modest 680 kg. To sum up, the Tiguan offers impressive ride and handling, clean styling and wonderfully neat and well featured interior. Highly recommended. A top buy in this sector with Volkswagens bulletproof reliability and cache.

2019 Volkswagen Tiguan Highline 4Motion: Priced from $39,575. Price as tested $43,580 plus freight PDI and AC Tax. More info